We turn onto a winding drive named Rue de Vin. The French words translate to “street of wine,” aptly named as we pass rows of vines—chardonnay, merlot, pinot blanc, cabernet franc and more—on our way up the hill to Chateau Chantal. Throughout the year, the winery and inn on Old Mission Peninsula hosts wine pairing dinners, thoughtfully crafting menus that showcase local ingredients and the farms that produce them. And tonight, we will be at the table.
This evening’s six-course wine dinner is inspired by St. Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers. Each January, vintners in the villages of Burgundy, France, gather for several days of wine drinking and feasting to thank St. Vincent and ask him to protect future harvests. A secret wine society, the Brotherhood of the Knights of Tastevin, started the wine festival in 1938.
More than 80 years later and 4,000 miles away, 30 guests are arriving at Chateau Chantal for a Northern Michigan version of the celebration.
Wine specialist Mike Dubois welcomes us with a flute of sparkling wine, a dry riesling-chardonnay blend called Tonight, and leads us downstairs for a behind-the-scenes tour of the sprawling wine cellar. He tells us about the winery’s founders, Robert and Nadine Begin, and their daughter, now the president and CEO, Marie-Chantal Dalese. Robert and Nadine purchased the 65-acre estate, then a cherry farm, in 1983. The first riesling grapes were planted at the top of the hill in 1986, and the winery opened in 1993.
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Local healthcare professionals worked tirelessly on the frontlines when the pandemic hit Northern Michigan and the battle continues. We’re sharing some of their stories here—stories of incredible interdisciplinary teamwork, grit and resilience, long hours beyond normal responsibilities, gratitude for colleague and community support and capable task forces that remain intact.